The French government appears to have won another round in its ongoing battle against film advertising on television.
Since May 2002, an EU commission under the guidance of Frits Bolkstein, has been pushing for television advertising access for several sectors previously banned from putting commercials on air. Among them, supermarkets, press, publishing and film.
In April this year, French culture minister Jean-Jacques Aillagon made proposals to Brussels which would allow for a relaxation of the rules governing supermarkets and the press, but held firm on the issue of film and books.
The French industry is concerned that if films are allowed to be advertised on TV, it would only benefit the American majors, to the detriment of the French and independent film communities.
While a recent concession on France's part to open book advertising to thematic and cable channels will be examined when the Commission meets on July 9, press and supermarket advertising will go forward as of January 1, 2004.
Still, those in the film industry are holding their ground. A recent statement by Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin seems to sum up the French position, "Our Europe is asking us to promote Hollywood."
Although there is speculation that France's hand could be forced by the European court of justice, should it continue to block film advertising, concrete concessions in the areas of mass distribution (supermarkets) and publishing may help to hold off a showdown on film, at least until September.